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Just imagine a stainless-steel skillet because the little black dress of your kitchen tool collection: whether you’re searing chops, caramelizing onions, oven roasting, or stir-frying, there’s almost everything that you can do.
To find the most effective stainless-steel skillet in 2020, we tested four models from legacy cookware brands and 4 from new, direct-to-consumer startups. This year, we added two other legacy models to the combo, both of which had garnered praise from reputable home cooking sites over the past year. Our favourite two years running was the All-Clad stainless-steel 12-Inch Fry Pan; it’s definitely an investment, but we expect it’s worth every penny.
Read on for why we loved the All-Clad pan; for the specifics of how we tested and what to appear for in a very stainless-steel cooking pan, scroll to the underside of the page.
The Best stainless-steel Skillet: All-Clad 12-Inch
If you have ever twisted through a food magazine or watched an episode of a cooking show, likelihood is that you’re already aware of All-Clad frying pans. for many years, the company’s range of bonded tri-ply cookware has been consistently rated best in school by publications like Bon Appétit and Cook’s Illustrated. Indeed, All-Clad has dominated the stainless-steel cookware landscape for thus long that we couldn’t help but wonder if, in spite of everything these years, they still deserved the accolades.
It didn’t take much testing to shut that inner skeptic down. Though generously proportioned with a 12-inch diameter and gently sloping sides that taper to a 9.75-inch cooking surface—one of the biggest we tried and massive enough easily accommodate four chicken thighs or three breasts—the All-Clad skillet was surprisingly comfortable to maneuver. Weighing slightly below three pounds, it had been hefty enough to carry up to serious use but not so heavy on cause wrist strain. While we do not love the brand’s signature skinny, concave handle, we appreciated its easy-to-grip angle and therefore the way it stayed reliably cool even after a protracted session on the stove.
Of all the competitors, the All-Clad pan hot the quickest, and browned both the flour and sliced onion consistently, without evidence of hotspots. The pan also seared chicken thighs deeply and evenly, and, because it’s oven-safe up to 500°F, transferred effortlessly to the oven to roast. after we deglazed the skillet to create a pan sauce, the fond released easily and therefore the sauce reduced silkily and speedily. better of all, cleanup was a breeze: a light-weight wash with Bar Keepers Friend was all it took to urge the skillet looking spanking new.
As one more benefit, we also liked knowing that the All-Clad pan had been crafted with 100-percent American steel at the company’s longstanding mill in Canonsburg, PA, outside Pittsburgh. You actually do get what you pay for—and each pan is protected by a limited lifetime warranty. Plus, once you consider that it comes with an identical lid, unlike most of the opposite pans we tried, it really is sort of a good value.
Two Affordable Alternatives: Tramontina Gourmet 12-Inch and Calphalon Classic 12-Inch
Though neither quite measures up to the All-Clad, if your aspirations within the kitchen are considerably larger than your budget, both Tramontina and Calphalon’s 12-inch stainless-steel skillets offer serious performance at relatively affordable prices. We were especially taken by their strong searing and even-heating capabilities during our flour and onions tests.
While the Calphalon was large enough to handle four chicken thighs without delay, the Tramontina was less impressive; though the outer diameter is 12 inches, the steep slope of its sides creates a smaller cooking surface on the inside.
At 8.25 inches, the Tramontina had the tiniest interior of all the pans we tested, which resulted in additional inconsistent chicken browning. But if you do not regularly feed a family of 4, that probably won’t be a difficulty.
The one con for the Calphalon was its weight; at six pounds, it had been one in every of the heavier pans we tested, which made it difficult to maneuver with only one hand. However, it does incorporate a lid.
How We Tested
Before we did any actual testing, we researched how chrome steel skillets are constructed. Lightweight skillets don’t retain or distribute heat similarly as their weightier counterparts, which might result in uneven cooking and troublesome hotspots; meanwhile, pans that are too heavy won’t be comfortable to maneuver, making them impractical for everyday use. Beyond the pan’s weight and material (in this case, we’re that specialize in chrome steel for its versatility, durability, and simple care), the opposite important factor to contemplate is whether or not it’s “fully-clad” or “disc-bottom.”
Disc-bottom pans have, as their name suggests, an aluminum-core disc welded to the bottom—a design that forestalls heat from distributing evenly up the walls of the skillet (as such, these pans are usually cheap). Fully-clad pans, on the opposite hand, have both a cooking surface and walls made up of full sheets of bonded, or clad, metal—usually a core of highly-conductive aluminum sandwiched between two or more sheets of non-reactive, gently-conductive chrome steel. the mixture is durable and nimble one that experts widely agree is that the gold standard for everyday, functional cookware.
With that in mind, we chose to primarily test fully-clad skillets, though we did include one disc-bottomed model for comparison’s sake. To assemble our lineup, we sought recommendations from the Epicurious staff, surveyed many user reviews on Amazon, and consulted the results of past tests done by reliable industry sources like Cook’s Illustrated, Serious Eats, the Wirecutter, and Good Housekeeping. When narrowing down our list of contenders, we decided to stay to skillets that were 10 inches or larger as they’re the foremost practical when cooking for quite two people. With budget consumers in mind, we also tried to represent a variety of price points.
After unboxing all the skillets, we eliminated two of the smaller models right out of the gate: the Brigade 9.5-Inch Skillet($70) and therefore the Potluck 10-Inch Skillet ($160 for a 7-piece cookware set). the explanation was simple: compared to their 12-inch counterparts, the cooking surface of those skillets was just skimpy. they will be fine for tiny tasks, but their size makes them an impractical choice for an all-purpose workhorse. (Neither Brigade or Potluck makes a bigger chrome steel skillet; if they’d, we might have happily given them an attempt.)
The remaining six skillets were subjected to a series of 5 identical tests. First, to uncover any hotspots, we sprinkled the inside of every pan with flour, placed it over medium-high heat, and watched to work out how evenly the flour browned. Then we sautéed an onion in each pan, checking to work out how quickly and consistently it caramelized. Next, we pan-roasted four skin-on chicken thighs in each pan, watching to work out how evenly the skin browned when seared on the stovetop and the way the pan fared after we transferred it to the oven to roast. After removing the chicken, we used the fond to form a fast lemon, butter, and caper pan sauce, observing how well the skillets deglazed and therefore the sauces reduced. Finally, we washed each pan, checking for any staining or wear and tear and noting how easy they were to scrub up.
Factors We Evaluated
1. How does the cooking pan combine form and function?
Before turning on the stove, we checked out each skillet’s design and got a way for a way it felt in our hands. Was the silhouette attractive? Did the materials feel solid? Was the handle comfortable? Did the burden feel evenly balanced?
2. How versatile is it?
We searched for skillets that would fit enough food for atiny low family, conducted heat evenly, withstood high temperatures without staining, and transitioned easily from stove to oven.
3. Is it easy to scrub and built to last?
A quality chrome steel skillet should last decades (in both function and appearance) so we paid attention to how easy the pans were to scrub, and if they came with lifetime warranties.
Other Pans We Tested
Though intrigued by the guarantees of direct-to-consumer cookware lines like Brigade and Potluck, we eliminated each brand’s 9.5-inch and 10-inch skillets too soon because we found the little sizes less versatile—if you are going to take a position in one chrome steel skillet, a 12-inch simply gives you more bang for your buck. (That said, if either brand begins making larger skillets, we’d be needing to try them.) The Misen 12-Inch Skillet ($75) incorporates a chic minimalist design and impressive, even heat control, but we didn’t love the user experience: the extra-long handle felt prefer it was always within the way and also the angle was a touch awkward. our favourite pan within the DTC category was the Made In 12-Inch chrome steel pan. it absolutely was pleasant to use and worked reliably, with good browning and only some hotspots. However, at $85 with no lid included, it wasn’t enough of a bargain to warrant a top spot.
The Anolon Tri-Ply chrome steel Fry Pan ($90) could be a good-looking pan with decent performance, but it showed some unevenness during the flour test and ultimately didn’t rise out of the center of the pack.
Predictably, the sole disc-bottomed skillet we tested, Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 12-Inch Skillet ($31), trailed behind in nearly every test. the development felt noticeably cheap, while the angle of the long handle was unwieldy. During tests, the cooking surface het up fast and unpredictably, requiring constant babysitting. It comes with a pleasant see-through lid, but many reviewers on Amazon report incidents of the glass shattering.
There’s a reason All-Clad has long been a favourite of professional cooks. Reliable, versatile, quick-heating, and meticulously crafted, the 12-inch stainless skillet is made to face up to a lifetime within the kitchen. At $100, it isn’t cheap, but is a wonderful value, especially considering it comes with a lid. That said, if you’re unaccustomed cooking or simply do not have the money to invest, the Tramontina Gourmet 12-inch skillet and Calphalon’s Classic Stainless-Steel Skillet are serviceable budget alternatives that may get the duty done and arise well to moderate use.